Bass Coast,
16
March
2016
|
03:25
Australia/Melbourne

Represent rural views in Bass Coast

Are you a farmer or involved in agriculture in Bass Coast and want to have input on issues that affect you?

Formed in 2013 to create a forum for discussion between Bass Coast Shire Council and the agricultural sector, the Bass Coast Rural Engagement Group (REG) is now looking for new members.

The Group meets quarterly to discuss matters that impact the rural sector, provide opportunities to network and collaborate with key stakeholders, and provide advice to Council on its strategic direction.

Other members in the group include representatives from Bass Coast Landcare Network, Victorian Farmers Federation, Agribusiness Gippsland, Councillors and Council staff.

REG member and Glen Forbes farmer, Bruce Spiden, said the majority of members have farming backgrounds or agricultural interests; mostly dairy, beef or sheep farmers from across the Shire.

“It’s to link Councillors together with the agricultural community and try and pass on information that we get as a group to the general farming community,” Mr Spiden said.

“We’re trying to make it a bit more proactive and get new people involved who have some good ideas. I believe we need to get social media more active on our side to get the community aware of what we’re doing.

“We provide some really solid input regarding rates, land size, building permits and all the rest of it. I think we can be a lot better and it’s a focus to make sure we can use all the information we get, and that the Councillors listen to what we say.”

Fellow member, Kongwak farmer Len McRae, agrees that the Group plays an important role in Council decisions regarding agriculture.

“It’s good there is some rural representation for the Council and I think it’s quite effective in putting our point of view across,” Mr McRae said.

Council is seeking Expressions of Interest from those involved in agriculture in Bass Coast to participate in this advisory committee.

Members will be selected to ensure that the REG represents geographical locations, rural activity type and farm size.

Leadbeater Ward Councillor, Clare Le Serve, said issues discussed by REG have included the Rural Land Use Strategy, differential farm rates and the Land Management Rebate.

“Agriculture is a significant sector of Bass Coast’s economy, and it’s very important to us that we maintain a strong and effective working relationship with those involved in agriculture,” Cr Le Serve said.

“The Group has been a valuable source of information, discussion and feedback from our local community and I encourage anyone involved in agriculture to submit an expression of interest.”

For those wanting to apply or more information, please contact Council’s Coordinator Economic Development, Roslyn Jenzen, on r.jenzen@basscoast.vic.gov.au or 03 5951 3317.